Can Blockchain be the Cure for the Healthcare Industry?
ealthcare spending worldwide continues to go up, while services tend to stay the same. The list of flaws is never-ending:
- unorganized administration
- drug counterfeiting
- patient data spread between parties
- ineffective clinical trials
Blockchain technology, which continues to find uses throughout multiple industries, has the potential to advance the outdated healthcare systems currently in use. Blockchain can bring about the necessary changes the global healthcare sector desperately needs:
- decentralizing electronic health records (EHR) and healthcare professionals credentials
- tracking the production of medications
- increasing data security
- shortening the data trial process
Decentralizing Electronic Health Records
A trip to a hospital these days might seem like a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Think about all the waiting involved at the hospital. We wait in line to check in, sitting in the waiting room until a doctor is ready to see us.
When the doctor is finally available, they go through a list of questions concerning our’ health history. This severely inefficient process can be easily remedied with blockchain technology.
Another stumbling block is a patient’s electronic health records (EHR) that are often split among various healthcare providers. This means that each time a patient visits a new healthcare professional, doctors request their health history from the previous provider. The process itself can take a substantial amount of time, ultimately slowing down the entire process and resulting in long waits.
With blockchain, the whole patient’s health history can be accessible to each new doctor they see. Instead of data being kept isolated among various healthcare professionals, it can be distributed among them.
Cutting Out Counterfeit Medication with Blockchain
An estimated 36 million Americans have purchased drugs online without a prescription. The problem with this is that many of these drugs are unregulated, often being counterfeits.
Counterfeit medication is a common problem. Deaths related to counterfeit medicines can be over one million per year. Nearly 40% of American medications are made abroad, with 80% of the active medicinal components being imported. Patients have no idea how medications are made, what their active ingredients are, or where they were sourced from.
A simple solution to this problem would be the use of blockchain for healthcare in the supply chain of medicines.
Blockchains are unalterable, secure, and transparent. They can be used to track medicines from pre-production up until purchase. With blockchain technology, counterfeit drugs might become a problem of the past.
At the moment, the popular retail chain, Walmart, has begun requiring all of its leafy green suppliers to upload their data to Walmart’s blockchain system. The idea is to prevent foodborne illnesses from spreading (an example of this would be the US E. coli outbreak of 2018).